555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

289. Why Was the Fig Tree Blighted?

The fig tree incident related in Mark 11 :13 has been a subject of much controversy, and the passage in Mark 11 :13 has been claimed by some to be a mistake in the transcription of the record as to the words, "He found nothing but leaves, for the time of figs was not yet" It is explained by some writers (including Pliny and Macrobius) that the fig tree in Palestine produces fruit at two or even three seasons of the year, and Hackett (in his Scripture Illustrations) tells us that the fruit precedes the leaves. One might infer from this that if a tree had leaves it might be expected to give evidence at least of having had fruit. In the case of this particular tree, having leaves in advance of the regular time (which "was not yet come") yet with no sign of having borne fruit, it was condemned, as some commentators interpret the case, because of its useless-ness. Trench and several others hold that the blighting of the precocious and fruitless tree was designed to convey a rebuke to "the barren traditions of the Pharisees, their ostentatious display of the law, and their vain exuberance of words without the good fruit of works." Still others, believe that our Lord, seeing the early leaves, had a right to expect that they would be accompanied by fruit.